I can remember it like it was yesterday.
My mind was trying to comprehend the words that were coming out of this young man’s mouth. I was confused, and I was doing a poor job of hiding it on my face. So he repeated again, “My dad stole my brother’s computer and sold it.”
I knew that my student (Let’s call him “Mike”) and I were different in many of ways. We grew up in different environments. There are cultural differences between us. There are socioeconomic differences. There are familial differences. But it was this conversation that really changed my perspective. I just kept trying to imagine my dad doing this to me and my sisters.
Then I started having memories of spending time with Mike in his home. Images started to come to mind of Mike being overly protective of his personal belongings in his own home. Originally, I thought this was just a constant sibling conflict, and an inability to share with each other. Then it hit me. He wasn’t trying to stop his siblings from touching his belongings, he was trying to avoid having his things being stolen by his own father, in his own house.
Then I asked the question that dug a little deeper, “Why does your dad steal and sell your stuff? What does he use the money for?” In my mind I was trying to assume the best. Maybe he was trying to buy food for his family.
His response was one that shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. “He pawns our stuff and uses the money for drugs,” said Mike in almost a monotone voice, like it was just normal life for him. His mom wasn’t sure where their next meal was going to come from, while the father was stealing his children’s possessions to buy drugs.
The sad part is that this is normal life for Mike. In fact, he can’t remember a time in his life where this wasn’t the norm. And this isn’t just an isolated situation. This is just one story of thousands happening across Chicago and our country. It simply points to a larger problem. That problem is fatherlessness.
Sure, Mike’s father is sometimes physically present in the home, but that’s about it. And in fact, he does more harm than good when he is present in the home. Their family is happier when he’s not there. And the statistics reveal the results of this fatherlessness on a larger scale.
40% of all children in the U.S., including a staggering 72% of African American children are born out of wedlock. And the symptoms of fatherlessness are real.
Fatherless children are:
2x as likely to drop out of high school
2x as likely to end up in jail
2x as likely to abuse alcohol or illegal drugs
4x as likely to have emotional or behavioral problems
4x as likely to live in poverty
When a father is not present in the home, families are more likely to be broken. Cities are more likely to be broken. People are more likely to be hurt.
Thankfully there’s a solution. It’s not an easy solution. It’s not a quick solution, because there are none of those. The solution is Christ-centered Life-on-Life relationships. You can learn more about it here: https://www.gripyouth.com/about-us/life-on-life. But we’ll be back soon to tell you more.